Positive and Negative Influences of Mass Media

Positives and Negatives of the Mass Media in Singapore
The mass media is a form of mechanism which disseminates information to a large group of people within a short period of time. The power of the mass media is such that it is able to inflict negative impact to our daily lives but also bring forth positive impacts to our lives simultaneously. Be it beneficial or detrimental, the outcome of the mass media all depends on how mankind uses it.

Positive Influence of the Mass Media

Example 1 - Mediacorp as a Source of Entertainment
The media is a source of entertainment for the people. Singapore has one of its media company called Mediacorp. This company provides entertainment through a diverse spectrum of channels. It offers the consumers more choices in watching the shows they desire. Mediacorp has a variety of channels, each of which having different languages. MediaCorp reaches out to 89% of the population in Singapore every week.In addition to that, the TV channels of Mediacorp are able to reach to a wide range of audience, from the young to the young at heart. Channel 5 for instance, caters to the interest of both the young and old with the availability of blockbuster movies shown weekly. OKTO however, entertains the young viewers. Therefore, we can see that the media in Singapore is able to entertain the Singapore population and bring them out of their dull life.

Example 2 - Newspapers Disseminates Information for the Environment
The mass media is able to serve as a platform for messages to be spread to the large masses within a short period of time. To be specific, a message for a good cause can be disseminated to the people. In Singapore, the Science, Technology and Environment Ministry hopes the mass media will continue with its role of disseminating news on environmental issues effectively. Department of Environment (DOE) director-general Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Said said no one could question the role played by the mass media in educating the public. "In 1974, only 300 articles appeared in the newspapers on environmental issues compared to some 30,000 per year today. Hence, we can see that things can be publicised easily for the purpose of common goal and common good.

Example 3 - Exposure of the NKF
Reporter Susan Long, with the support of the Straits Times, investigated the mystery surrounding TT Durai, the CEO of the National Kidney Foundation(NKF) and published reports on his suspicious links and transactions. Her report was the catalyst in a chain of events that eventually exposed the corrupt practices of the NKF to the Singaporean public.

Example 4 - Ease of Communication with the public
When an MRT broke down, for example, STOMP, the Straits Times online portal, was the first to have information on the event for the public. This was followed by the Straits Times newspaper which reaches our doorsteps and newsstands in the wee hours of the morning.

Example 5 - Exposure of Singapore’s Problems to the General Public
Take for example, the reality show, Get Real which is a local Channel News Asia’s creation. This new show follows host Diana Ser as she delves into underground Singaporean issues like prostitution and homosexuality as well as teenage self-inflicted harm. Granted, these are not new problems and thorny issues, but to actually surface and bring it to light taboo topics in a relatively conservative society like Singapore with a slanted local context is a breakthrough. This gung-ho attitude to confront societal matters and teach the populace about what they would rather hide and conceal is laudable and commendable.

Example 6 – Disseminate Information to promote Aid
The television news in Singapore does gives out positive influence to the society. For example, when there is a disaster occurring in other countries such as the Hurricane Katrina in the USA, its news sector is efficient in disseminating information on the incident. In addition, in 2005, the Singapore Red Cross launches its appeal to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina via the news media; Channel News Asia. Furthermore, humanitarian agencies rely heavily on the help of the media to raise awareness of crises and to generate income to aid the victims. Therefore, this shows that the mass media in Singapore has a positive influence on the society as it helps to promote aid in such crisis.

Example 7 – Mass Media , a time management tool
The use of modern-day innovations and services – ranging from supersonic jet planes and fast-food outlets—are aimed at helping people save time.
A study in Singapore showed that 60% of secondary-one students (or 7th-graders) attributed their increase in productivity to the Internet (Kuo, Choi, Mahizhnan, Lee, & Soh, 2002). Over the last decade, Internet use has soared around the world. This technology presents an alternative way for people to accomplish their tasks. The Internet has allowed many daily activities to migrate online—be it shop, talk, play, or work. Therefore, depending on what people do online, the Internet is not simply an activity, it is also a time management tool.

Example 8 – Promotes Altruistic Spirit through the Courtesy Campaign
The National Courtesy Campaign was launched on 1 June 1979 by Lee, Kuan Yew, the then Prime Minister of Singapore. The aim of the Campaign was to create a pleasant social environment with Singaporeans considerate to each other and thoughtful of each other's needs.

The campaign began as an initiative by the former Singapore Tourist Promotion Board encouraging Singaporeans to be more polite and friendly to tourists to support the tourist industry in Singapore. Then Lee felt strongly that it should not be restricted to tourists and spearheaded the nation-wide drive. Originally, the campaign was for a month, with July designated as Courtesy Month. It was thought that the target to build a courteous and pleasant society could be achieved over a period of 10 years. The campaign was initially represented by a Smiley logo and had the slogan "Make courtesy our way of life". The Smiley logo was subsequently replaced by Singa, the Lion mascot in 1982.

The campaign has targeted many different sectors of the population with different strategies and focus emphasised through the years. Commonly used methods of promotion were through distribution of souvenirs such as bookmarks and caps, and through the use of catchy slogans. TV commercials, sitcoms, school activities and competitions have also helped raise people's awareness of the need to be courteous and considerate in various social situations. From 1985, it became a year-long publicity drive, costing S$700,000 a year. It took the form of media advertisements, tokens and activities such as essay-writing competitions and jingles. The Singapore Courtesy Council was also set up in 1993 to draw on private sector talent to organise and co-ordinate the campaign.

On 1 March 2001, the National Courtesy Campaign was officially subsumed under the Singapore Kindness Movement. Courtesy programmes previously run under the National Courtesy Campaign now continue to be run under the Singapore Kindness Movement.

Example 9 – Publicises Environmental Events
Launched in November 1990, the Clean and Green Week (CGW) is a week-long campaign that runs in November each year. It is administered by the Education & Partnership Department, National Environment Agency (NEA). It aims to promote awareness and appreciation for a clean and green environment.

Today, the CGW is administered by the Education & Partnership Department of the National Environment Agency (NEA). One programme that has made an impact on the environment and public awareness is the Cleanest Estate Competition. This programme encourages residents of housing estates to stop littering and keep their surrounding clean. Another environment-friendly programme is SCIC's (Singapore Chemical Industry Council) Responsible Care Programme that emphasises pollution prevention and high standards of health safety measures among employees in chemical industries. Other traditional programmes that have continued since the beginning of CGW include the Tree-Planting campaign and guided tours and walks at the nature reserves jointly organised with the National Parks Board. Recycling is also a popular and ongoing theme spurred by programme like the Green Office Label which recognises organisations that are committed to reduce wastage in the consumption of paper and power.

Since the recent outbreak of SARS in 2003 and other infectious diseases like the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), the role of CGW in promoting responsible public health and environment-friendly habits has gained in importance. In 2003, the NEA working closely with the SARS Task Force started the 'Singapore's OK' campaign to step up the level of general hygiene and to educate the public on the individual responsibility of mitigating the spread of SARS. 134 hawker stalls were given a good scrub in a massive post-SARS clean-up operation in November 2003. A scriptwriting contest with a hygiene theme was held for school children.

Negative Influence of the Mass Media

Example 10 – Internet Addiction
Mass media does have its negative impacts. One example of such is the increasing internet addiction in Singapore. In January this year, Singapore's Academy of Medicine published a paper on Excessive Internet Use in which it surveyed 2,735 students in Secondary 1 to Secondary 3. One in five admitted to being constantly online at least five hours a day, a usage the report termed as 'compulsive'. ‘They use the Internet to such an extent that it interferes with their academic studies and they are very much preoccupied with it,' it said. One reason for the rise is the emergence of social networking groups and more interesting online games.
For example, psychologists say many young patients stay on social networks like Facebook all day because they want to be connected with their network of friends, through updates on the site. Therefore, the mass media does lead to negative effects.

Example 11 - Mis-use of Blogs
Take Mr Brown, for example. He is essentially a blogger, but when he had a column in Today, his views seems somewhat biased. In his blog, he usually presented one-sided views on political issues, attacking the Singapore government with sarcasm and satire. Anyone who formulates his view based only on Mr Brown’s blog entries would view our political system with an unfair slant.

Example 12 – Perpetuates the Prevalence of False Information
There are also negative influences from the mass media in Singapore. The advertisements screened on the television may provide the people with a stereotype view that the ideal figure they should have is to be slim. Hence, advertisements such as the Slim 10 dieting pill which might not be fully effective could lure people into consuming them. For example, Andrea de Cruz, a female actor in Singapore, suffered a serious liver failure after consuming the product. The product was then tested and was found to contain fenfluramine and nicotinamide that was banned by authorities in several Asian countries but had not been discovered in previous tests. Hence, this shows that what the media has advertised may not be reliable at all times and one should be careful when consuming such product that was being advertised.

Example 13 – Perpetuates Negative Stereotypes
A negative influence in teenagers is the use of cigars by celebrity movie stars, the constant exposure of sex images, the excessive images of violence and exposure to thousands of junk food ads.
Also, the media creates the ideal image of a beautiful men and women and tells people the wrong characteristics of a successful person, as seen in movies. It’s a subliminal way to tell you that if you are not like them you are not cool yet so it’s time to buy the stuff they buy and look like they look.
Thirdly, there are millions of adolescents fighting obesity today, but simultaneously, they are exposed to thousands of advertisements of junk food, while the ideas image of a successful person is told to be thin and wealthy.

Example 14 - Alcohol Advising To Youth
Alcoholic ads are all over television these days; a day doesn’t go by where one doesn’t see an alcohol related advertisement. Companies make advertisements so that people will see them on television and get enticed to go out and purchase their product.
The alcohol industries are definitely promoting much of their ads to the youth. Alcohol ads are everywhere, whether it is on television, the Internet or in magazines; teenagers are obviously large users of the Internet and television.
Alcohol industries are trying to get underage kids more interested in alcohol so that when they are old enough to drink they will purchase their product. This is a major problem in society today because kids aren’t waiting till they are old enough to drink.

Example 15 – Leads to Money Losses Due to Inflammatory Comments
SINGAPORE: A magazine and its editor have been ordered to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew over S$400,000 for defamation.
The High Court ordered the Review Publishing Company, publisher of the Far Eastern Economic Review (Feer), and editor Hugo Restall to pay S$200,000 in damages and S$30,000 in legal costs to PM Lee, reported AFP.
The minister mentor will get S$150,000 in damages and S$25,000 in legal costs.
The penalties were set after the Court of Appeal last month upheld a 2008 decision finding the defendants guilty of defaming the Lees in a 2006 article based on an interview with opposition politician Dr Chee Soon Juan.
Dow Jones and Co, which owns the magazine, said in a statement on Tuesday that it disagreed with the verdict and denied any wrongdoing but would settle the damages instead of prolonging the process, reported AFP.
When contacted by MediaCorp, Drew and Napier, which represented both Singapore leaders in the case, confirmed that Feer had agreed to pay S$405,000 to Messrs Lee.
Feer is to be shut down in December, one of a growing number of publications which have fallen victim to the Internet age.
The article at the heart of the case — Singapore’s "Martyr", Chee Soon Juan — described the opposition Singapore Democratic Party secretary—general’s battle against the ruling People’s Action Party and its leaders.

Example 16 – Promote the wrong usage of the English Language
Other negative aspect of the mass media in Singapore is that the local television programs do not portray the proper usage of proper English when actors are conversing on the show. A clear example would be the famous Singaporean sitcom on Mediacorp TV, Phua Chu Kang Pte LTD. This popular comedy is well known for its heavy usage of Singlish language conversation and dialogue amongst, by, or between the characters in this comedy show most of the time. Much like any other Singaporean sitcom, the show was put under pressure by the government to use proper English instead of Singlish. Critics of the show have labelled Phua Chu Kang as an inaccurate or disgraceful representation of Singapore. This sitcom might give the wrong impression to the foreigners who watched them, portraying inaccurately that most Singaporeans do not converse in proper English. Therefore, one of the many flaws of the mass media in Singapore in its television programs is that it does not always give a reliable representation of the country in the eyes of foreigners.

Acknowledgements of Sources

Group members
Ru Yan
Jia Ying
Fatin Diana

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